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From Wastewater to White Water

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - The Iowa City City Council moved forward with a potential plan to create a whitewater recreation park on the Iowa River, just below the Burlington Street dam during its regular meeting on Tuesday night. 

Whether or not the park is actually developed into a whitewater park, city planners are hoping it could be the anchor for the entire Riverfront Crossings project. 

The city will demolish the old North Wastewater Treatment Plant along the Iowa River, and the hope is, a park will take its place. 

"We want to have this park be a catalyst for development around the park," said neighborhood services coordinator Steve Long. 

There is already interest from developers to build neighborhoods in the area around the park, so the city wants to make sure it is well planned. The potential whitewater park would be a cut-in area attached to the river, a feature that concerned city council member Rick Dobyns. 

"I'm concerned about asking for money for future planning of what sounds like a lot of fun, but may not be able to be funded because it's not part of the flood plain," Dobyns said. 

But associate planner Karen Howard said the plan is to have the park act as a flood able buffer between the river and development. 

"So I think it will still be available for all those kinds of grants that deal with green infrastructure, flood resiliency, sustainability," Howard said. 

The hope is to make the area a safe, environmentally-friendly place, whitewater park or not. 

Officially, the council approved city planners to move forward with the McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group. They will design two park options: one with a whitewater component and one without. Both will be presented in September. 

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